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Michigan Avenue Magazine 2012 - "River Renaissance"

Doug

From industrial wasteland to Chicago's most desirable district, River North exemplifies a modern-urban renewal success story.

"With partner Chauwarin Tuntisak, he amassed a 23,000 square-foot showcase of exotic international and Chicago-based furnishings that attracts serious collectors from around the country.

In the Beginning: The co-owners originally partnered up to sell rubies and sapphires from a Thailand mine. When that business nearly failed, the pair worked at a pizza place Van Tress making and delivering pies, with Tuntisak working in management. They made enough money to establish The Golden Triangle, originally called Thai Imports, in 1989 by importing artifacts and antiques from Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Good as Gold: The pair originally opened a 500-squarefoot showroom on Chicago Avenue. When real estate developer Albert Friedman tried to set up a meeting, Van Tress didn't call him back because he was already locked into a two-year lease at another location. 'I didn't want to waste his time,' Van Tress says. Ultimately, Friedman prevailed, telling Van Tress, 'We need to talk.' When he arrived at the gallery, Van Tress told him, 'I can't break my contract,' to which Friedman responded, 'Who said anything about breaking your contract?' Friedman didn't charge him rent for the first 10 months, helping Van Tress pay off his current lease. 'It is long-term business thinking,' Van Tress says. 'He's playing chess and the other guys are playing hacky sack.'"